The UK's John Lewis Partnership (owner of the retail and grocery brands John Lewis and Waitrose) has launched a co-branded credit card with HSBC, evolving from the company's 40 year-old 'John Lewis account card'.
The Partnership Card offers a preferential reward rate for spending within John Lewis and Waitrose, while the rewards themselves - vouchers which can be used in outlets across the John Lewis Partnership - concentrate further spend in the shops.
As is typical of rewards-based credit cards, the new card offers members six months' interest free credit on balance transfers when their account is opened, and a rewards return up to 1% of expenditure. As a MasterCard, the partnership card can be used in more than 32 million outlets across the world. Using a PIN code, cardholders can withdraw up to 200, or the equivalent in local currency, from ATMs each day.
Partnership vouchers are earned at a rate of one percent for purchases made within John Lewis Partnership shops and on its associated websites, and 0.5% everywhere else. All vouchers earned are sent automatically to customers every four months.
A 24-hour customer service line offers help for partnership card holders, and secure online facilities mean customers can make payments and check recent transactions or balances online.
"The partnership card is a first for the John Lewis Partnership. It is a major step toward our goal of a wider relationship with more customers across John Lewis and Waitrose," explained Charlie Mayfield, development director for the John Lewis Partnership.
According to Mayfield, the card was inspired by research among 200,000 of the firm's customers, which demonstrated a significant demand for a credit card from John Lewis and Waitrose. The research conducted in the 18-month development period revealed a large potential market within the company's own account card customer base, and beyond.
Technology and service
HSBC is providing the underlying technology, expertise and funding for the new credit card. Additionally, excellent customer service for the card was identified as a key requirement at an early stage and will reflect the high standards that customers are already accustomed to across the company. As a result, the John Lewis Partnership and HSBC have created and extensively trained a 200-strong customer service unit in Birmingham.
The marketing strategy for the card is focused first on introducing it to existing account card holders. It will then be promoted to all customers starting in June 2004.
Together, John Lewis and Waitrose claim more than 5 million regular shoppers (based on TGI Consumer Panel Data for October 2002 to September 2003).